After a legal battle that has played out under the seal for months, Elon Musk’s social media platform, X, formerly known as Twitter, has been slapped with a hefty fine of $350,000 due to the company’s failure to meet up with a crucial deadline to comply with a secret search warrant concerning former President Donald Trump’s account.
BREAKING: Biden DOJ fines Elon Musk $350,000 after he REFUSES to give them access to Trump's Twitter accounthttps://t.co/YapVSdu81r
— Jack Poso 🇺🇸 (@JackPosobiec) August 9, 2023
The incident stems from an ongoing investigation by the US Department of Justice into Trump’s involvement in the protest at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. It is worth noting that X had served as one of the primary channels through which Trump directly communicated with his millions of followers during his tenure.
The search warrant, issued by the DoJ, demanded that X provide data and records linked to Trump’s @realdonaldtrump Twitter account. These records were sought as part of a broader effort to examine any potential ties between Trump’s social media presence and the events surrounding the J6 protest.
While the DOJ’s specific interest in Trump’s account is unknown, X found itself in a tangled legal web when it failed to comply with the request put forth by the team under special counsel Jack Smith. According to court documents, the company only produced an incomplete set of records three days after the court-imposed deadline.
Adding an extra layer of complexity to the situation is the nondisclosure order that prosecutors imposed on X, prohibiting the company from notifying anyone about “the existence or content” of the search warrant.
X’s attempts to challenge this nondisclosure order were met with little success, even as the company argued that it infringed on its right to free speech under the First Amendment.
Despite its legal arguments, a lower court upheld the nondisclosure order, citing the need to prevent any interference with the ongoing investigation. The court believed that notifying Trump about the warrant could potentially jeopardize the investigation by giving him the opportunity to tamper with evidence or influence others involved.
The substantial $350,000 penalty placed on X comes as the appeals court explained that the government had proposed escalating sanctions at $50,000 per day, doubling with each day of non-compliance.